"The new generation of heart assist pumps has the opportunity to revolutionize the treatment of end-stage heart failure treatment. Their small size and longevity allow patients unprecedented mobility and activity. For many it is like a new lease on life." Marc R. Katz, MD
Images courtesy of Thoratec Corporation
Left Ventricular Assist Device
Many advances have been made to improve and miniaturize left ventricular assist devices (LVADs.) LVADs are no longer large and cumbersome, requiring long-term hospitalization. Most units are now small, electronically driven and extremely reliable. The small size and quiet operation make them ideal for a wide range of patients, including women and those of a smaller size.
Bridge to Transplant
For some patients, LVADs are implanted as a "Bridge to Transplant", increasing end-organ perfusion. The benefits are obvious. With good perfusion, kidney and liver function remain optimized, avoiding cardio-renal and cardio-hepatic syndromes. Nutritional status also does not decline, making the patents better surgical candidates.
Many patients do not meet transplant criteria due to co-morbid conditions or age but remain relatively fit and functional. "Destination Therapy" offers long-term support for patients ineligible for cardiac transplantation with markedly improved prognosis.